Lyrics from “Carinhoso” by Pixinguinha and João de Barro (1936)
Meu coração// My heart,
Não sei por que// I don’t know why
Bate feliz// Beats happily
Quando te vê// When it sees you
E os meus olhos ficam sorrindo// And my eyes can’t stop smiling
E pelas ruas vão te seguindo// And, through the streets, they go on following you
Mas mesmo assim// But even so
Foges de mim// You avoid me
Ah! se tu soubesses como eu sou tão carinhoso// Ah, if you only knew how loving I am
E o muito e muito que te quero// And just how much I want you
E como é sincero meu amor// And how sincere my love is
Eu sei que tu não fugirias mais de mim// I know you wouldn’t run from me anymore
Vem, vem, vem, vem // Come, come, come, come…
Vem sentir o calor dos labios meus// Come feel the warmth of my lips
À procura dos teus// Seeking yours
Vem matar esta paixão// Come quench this passion
Que me devora o coração// Which devours my heart
E só assim, então// And only then
Serei feliz, bem feliz// Will I be happy – very happy
Pixinguinha composed “Carinhoso” in 1917, at age 19, but since it didn’t conform to the strict standards for choro at the time (it had only two parts, while the standard was three, following the same structure as polka) he set it aside for over ten years.
“Carinhoso” was first released in December 1928 by the Orquestra Típica Pixinguinha-Donga, and was recorded two more times in its instrumental version, by the Orquestra Victor Brasileira in 1929 and by the mandolinist Luperce Miranda in 1934 – both times registered mistakenly as “Carinhos.”
Still, the song that would go on to become “the song of the 20th century,” in the words of Paulinho da Viola, didn’t make much of an impact until Braguinha (Carlos Alberto Ferreira Braga, also known as João de Barro) composed the lyrics in 1936, upon request by the actress and singer Heloísa Helena.
Helena wanted a new song to perform with the show Parada das Maravilhas, and she suggested that Braguinha add lyrics to “Carinhoso.” Braguinha agreed, and immediately went to see Pixinguinha and hear him play “Carinhoso” at the dance hall El Eldorado (now Centro Cultural Carioca). That same night, he hurriedly wrote lyrics for the song that went on to become perhaps the best-known and one of the ten most recorded MPB songs of all time.
In the documentary Paulinho da Viola: Meu Tempo é Hoje, Paulinho da Viola remarks,”[Carinhoso] was written in 1917 and traversed the century to such an extent that in any Brazilian bar if someone picks up a guitar and starts playing, everyone is able to sing along.”
Braguinha’s biographer Jairo Severiano observes that the lyrics are nothing too special – not among Braguinha’s best, which is not surprising considering the rush with which he wrote them. And top radio voices Francisco Alves and Carlos Galhardo passed up the opportunity to record the song before it was offered to Orlando Silva, who recorded “Carinhoso” along with Pixinguinha’s beautiful waltz “Rosa,” with lyrics by Otávio de Souza, in 1937. At the time, even Orlando Silva apparently wasn’t too convinced by the lyrics: he reportedly requested alternative lyrics from the composer Pedro Caetano.
But after the resounding success of the recording, Orlando Silva claimed in several interviews that he was the one who had requested that Braguinha put lyrics to the song. Both Pixinguinha and Braguinha denied this claim.
Source for this post: Yes, nós temos Braguinha by Jairo Severiano (1987)
I was naive when I believed in love
But at least I never gave in to pain
I cried my first sorrow
I cried it all out, so as not to cry anymore
And my heart became serene
Expelling the poison through my gaze
I tried to be as God commanded
Without taking revenge, because revenge has no value
And then, to also forgive he who errs
Is to be forgiven on Earth
Without having to plead forgiveness in heaven
I didn’t mean to resolve
I didn’t mean to refuse
But from a love in ruins, a force ends up
Taking over us
And then protecting
From the abysms that life plots
When time becomes the only evil
And lonesomeness starts to be fatal
I didn’t mean to reflect, no…
I didn’t mean to repress, no
I didn’t mean to fear…
Because against good, I’ve done nothing
And I only want, someday
To be happy, as I’m unhappy
— Interpretation —
In 1964, historian and musicologist Ary Vasconcellos wrote in his classic Panorama da Música Popular Brasileira,”If you have 15 volumes to talk about all Brazilian popular music, you can be sure that it’s too little. But if you have only enough space for one word, not everything is lost; write quickly: Pixinguinha.”
After all, Vasconcellos continued, “What other name, besides Pixinguinha — an instrumentalist, composer, orchestrator, conductor, and all this in brilliant form — could really better represent Brazilian popular music of all time?” Pixinguinha was not only wildly popular but also well-respected among “erudite” music critics of the era. He is also credited — — though controversially– with being one of the first to incorporate influences from jazz into Brazilian popular music.
(In the 1920s, Pixinguinha began to record with saxophone, rather than flute. As his hands began to tremble in the 1930s and 1940s, Pixinguinha switched permanently to saxophone. This move, along with the trumpet and trombone he incorporated in his arrangements, were attributed to influences from American jazz, in part since they came after an international music exposition in Rio de Janeiro in 1922 and Pixinguinha’s visit to Argentina from 1922-1923. These instruments were present in Brazilian music since the 19th century, though, so the influence of jazz in the instrument choice has been questioned.)
Pixinguinha was born Alfredo da Rocha Viana Jr. on April 23, 1897 (though the year is controversial because his birth certificate says 1898) in Rio de Janeiro. His father was a flute player who organized musical gatherings with well-known musicians in their family home. Pixinguinha took part, and by age 9 or 10 was already playing cavaquinho.
Though even Pixinguinha admitted uncertainty about the roots of his nickname, his family members confirm that it started out as Pizindim, meaning “good boy” in Afro-Brazilian dialect of the time. Late in life, Pixinguinha attributed the name to his “African grandmother,” but his sisters agreed that a cousin – Santa – had given him the nickname as a boy. Regardless of its origin, everyone agrees that the nickname was well-deserved: throughout his life, Pixinguinha maintained the reputation of “goodness personified,” and many friends or acquaintances referred to him as Saint Pixinguinha.
By 1911, Pixinguinha was already composing his first song — “Lata de Leite” (“Can of milk”), a choro about kids drinking milk taken from their neighbors’ doorsteps. Choro — considered the first truly Brazilian urban popular music — emerged around the turn of the century (1880 – 1920), as Brazilian musicians composed songs that fused European influences like polka and waltz with African and Afro-Brazilian rhythms and styles. The style started out being played in trios of flute, guitar and cavaquinho. In the years after he wrote “Lata de Leite”, Pixinguina went on to become perhaps the most important, influential, beloved and revered choro composer of all time. He began playing in bars and theaters around Rio de Janeiro in 1912; by 1915 his professional success as a composer was sealed and his career took off when the publishing house Carlos Wehrs released his “tango”, “Dominante.”
Those days, only songs following a particular three-part structure were classified as choro; the rest were most often classified as polka – quick or slow – or tango. Even Pixinguinha’s most well-known choro, “Carinhoso,” was originally identified as a “slow polka” by the composer since it didn’t follow the three-part model. In the late 1960s, Pixinguinha said if he were to classify the song again, he would call it a “slow choro.”
“Ingenuo” is credited as one of the first two-part choros, following a structure that would become frequent by the 1950s.
Sources for this post include Panorama da Música Popular Brasileira by Ary Vasconcelos (Livraria Martins Editora, 1964), p. 84 – 88, and Pixinguinha: Filho de Oxum Bexigueno by Marília T. Barboza da Silva and Arthur L. de Oliveira Filho (Gryphus, 1998), along with the documentary Pixinguinha: Nós Somos um Poemaand “Tópicas na música popular brasileira: Uma análise semiótica do choro e da música instrumental” by Marina Beraldo Bastos (Univ. Estadual de Santa Catarina, 2008).